Archive | July, 2011

Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt (part 10)

31 Jul

Struggling with Grace

Taking care of Great Aunt brought an increased awareness to my own personal lack of grace. If I thought I had gained strides through being a wife and mother; this period of my life took the ongoing refining of my character to a whole new level.  The daily struggle to patiently love and selflessly serve, tested me far beyond where I been.  This was 24 hour, 7 day a week care.

…it was a somewhat typical busy day for our young large family.  I had a very new baby, the children had chicken  pox, Mark’s back was out and he was limited to bed rest. The day was cut out for me;  meals needed to be made, sick children tended, laundry done, baby fed and changed…  Great Aunt had eaten her breakfast and was appearing to enjoy the sunny sitting area in her room.

She beckoned me to bring her a glass of cold water. In between the continuous needs and questions of the children, I came back with a glass of cold water. Her response was less than happy. I had failed to put ice in the glass. Walking back to the kitchen meant being available to the children; their questions and needs quickly resumed. I was distracted. One had itchy pox, another’s fever was on the rise, baby was crying… when suddenly I remembered, Great Aunt wanted ice water!

Quickly I filled her glass with many chunks of ice and attempted again to cheerfully serve her.   With a sharp angry voice she replied, “Well, what took you so long?” I tried to defend myself, “Please be patient with me. Mark’s back is out, the kids are all sick, and I just had a baby and need to move slowly.” The response I received literally did me in. “Humph!” she crossly stated, “It’s not my fault you had a baby!” In a knee jerk reaction, I threw the ice water all over Great Aunt.

I quickly went outside and sat on the front step. What had I done!? I was ashamed and in tears.

Humbly I called my mother-in-law (Great Aunt’s niece) and confessed.

The unexpected grace I experienced that day, is one I will never forget.

“Becky, Great Aunt is living and breathing.  You have given her years of life she would not have had.  She hangs laundry, she plays with the children.  She has relationships with all of you. That is what relationships are – laughing, loving, and even getting angry, and making up.”

I regained my composure and faced Great Aunt again, with a fresh glass of ice water. Carefully, I handed it to her, apologizing for my behavior.  If she even remembered the incident, she never let on, but her disposition remained much sweeter for the rest of that day.

I want to treat others – I want to treat my family with the grace I received from my mother-in-law that day.


When Potty Training Doesn’t Go As Planned

27 Jul

Sometimes potty training just doesn’t go as planned.  Maybe you’ve put in the effort, 3 solid days of training and your little one just isn’t getting it.

Each child is unique.  Resist the temptation to compare your child to an older sibling or the neighbor’s child that was trained at a year. Some children simply need more time. If the child is not showing signs of control after walking through this plan, don’t push it.   Wait three to six months and try again.

Occasionally there will be the child that does great during the day, but is unable to stay dry at night.  This can literally last for years. We limited the amount of liquid before bed, got the child up in the middle of the night, gave big incentives…  all not making much of a difference. The best advice I received was from my wise mother-in-law.  She told me to simply embrace it. Don’t make a big deal over it. Don’t embarrass the child. In fact, make as little an issue as possible, knowing the child would naturally be embarrassed about it, sensing your frustration.

So, that is exactly what we did.  Every day the sheets were washed and hung to dry and life went on.  Before I knew it, this stage was done.

The next post will be on one more potty training subject: Training the Bowels

Potty Training

25 Jul

Potty Training had a way of involving the whole family in our home.  I said, “Had,” because we are done.  I speak from my experience of training 14 little toddlers.

According to our Grandma Lois (and others), on the average, two year old’s bladders are developed and the child mature enough to begin potty training.  Since I admired and respected Grandma Lois, I followed her rule of thumb.  When our children were around two years of age and/or stayed dry occasionally through the night, we began the process.

Here is the plan…

  • Set aside 3 days.  Drop every other responsibility and distraction as much as possible.  Be prepared to focus on your little one.
  • Stock up on a special drink that would be a treat.  (ex. fruit juice or herbal tea with honey – stay a way from sugary drinks)
  • Be prepared with a little basket of books, finger games, songs to sing, or stories to tell – while spending time in the bathroom.
  • On the first morning, as soon as you are ready, begin the cycle by giving your little one a full cup of juice to drink freely.
  • Set the timer for 15 minutes.  When it goes off, have the child sit on the toilet.  The first try might be a little scary for him, but by the end of the day, he will be used to it.  Take a few minutes (shoot for 3 – 5) to read a story.  Take the time to develop a routine that will last a life time. Help to wash the little hands with soap and dry with a towel.  Don’t expect results the first day. 
  • Continue the cycle all day long: drink juice, set timer, go potty, read story, wash hands.  Go ahead and diaper for nap time, but begin the process right away again, after the nap.
  • When the child has his first success (at this point it will likely be by accident) be sure to praise them.  This is an exciting time!  (In our home older siblings came running and dad received a phone call.)
  • Do not put diapers or pull ups on the child when awake!  If he is simply wearing underwear, the feel of wet cotton and moisture dripping down the legs is unpleasant!
  • One more hint:  Try to keep his playtime in an area that is not carpeted, preferably close to the bathroom, or outside.

That’s it!  The first day is the hardest.  By the second day the child should have had a few successes.  If you have been very consistent, by the third day, the pattern should be set.  You no longer need to push the liquids, simply help the little one to continue the routine.  Life should be able to return to normal, reserving the diapers bedtime, if needed.

You might also be interested in:

When Potty Training Doesn’t go as Planned

Potty Training: The Dirty Details

A daughter finding her “aim”

21 Jul

One Pure and Holy Passion

“On occasion I struggle with my identity and wanting to have a tangible passion and vision for my life.  I desire to know all the plans the Lord has for me and what the future holds.  On Thursday evening, July 14th 2011 I went for a stroll by myself.  My intention was to sit down and read my Bible; however, I couldn’t concentrate and had no clue what I wanted to read.  Hence my time became a prayer walk – the kind where you attempt to pray and yet don’t know what to pray.  This was one of those times where I’m quite sure God interceded on my behalf – where He knew my inner groaning and prayers better than I did. Later that evening I sat in the kitchen talking to my Mom and sharing with her how I was feeling.  I have the utmost respect for my Mom – her spiritual wisdom always amazes me.  My Mom reminded me that God makes everyone differently – she understood how I may desire to have a tangible passion or goal and how lack of that can make one feel short of purpose in life.  However, my Mom did not stop there.  She reminded me that God gifted me with the desire to serve and love my fellow friends.  I have always cared about people and always desire to know what is going on with them.  I desire to serve them and be used by God in their lives.  I desire to let the joy of Christ shine through me and bless others.

Friday morning I woke up at 5am for my morning time with the Lord.  I opened my Bible and once again paged through the leaves of the Bible.  I was reading through Matthew and didn’t really want to read there… it was just one of those mornings.  As I flipped through, my eyes fell upon the title of a chapter in 1 Peter 4:8-11.  The title was “An Exhortation to Pray, Love, and Serve.”  Here is the scripture passage that I read: “The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear minded and self controlled so that you can pray.  Above all love each other deeply because love conquers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen. “

This scripture seemed to be directed straight from the Lord to me – it was there just waiting for me to read that morning. The Lord knew what I needed to hear.  Not only did the Lord provide me with this scripture from Him, he also provided me with a song which had been running through my head ever since I rolled out of bed that morning.  You may or may not be familiar with the song, it is called: One Pure and Holy Passion.  The lyrics for this song are as follows: “Give me one pure and holy passion, Give me one magnificent obsession, Give me one glorious ambition for my life…”

So, later when I need to remind myself what my passion is, what my goals are, and what my ambition is for my life, this letter is meant to be a reminder of God’s direction in my life.  I am to take one step at a time, follow the Lord’s leading in my life, and allow Him to be the passion of my life.  I need to serve like Jesus served and love like Jesus loved.  I need to remember what my name means and know that I am also called to be one who prays.”


…written by a daughter


when life gives you lemons…

19 Jul

A week ago, I wrote about a day when everything went right. Those days are so much fun, but just in case you were thinking that was normal life in our home, today you will see it is not so…

It started a week ago, when our house was hit by lightning (I think).  Well, at any rate, it was a bad storm and it wiped out our internet.  A week later, the repairman is still assuring me that he is going to come, eventually.

The septic system must have been in cahoots with the internet, for whatever the problem might be, the household plumbing is not draining properly. (That’s putting it mildly.)  The man that takes care of our system is taking a much needed vacation.  I truly am happy for him, but… I will be the first to welcome him back! LiterallyJ

Apparently, our tiller got the same memo.  Determined to harvest the potatoes and anything else that might be ready, we headed out to the garden.  We diligently dug and gathered the potatoes, pulled the cabbage that had been destroyed by little green worms, and gathered a portion of the beets. Looking forward to getting our second planting into the ground, my son got the tiller fired up. Up one row and almost down another until it simply gave up.  No more tilling.

Not only are the gadgets breaking down, so is my organizational system! One bedroom in particular had become a disaster! The garage, which we had so recently organized, was beginning to show similar signs.  The young household trash men were not following through.

Yet, there is always good news and plenty to be thankful for!

I am so thankful that my husband blessed me with smart phone. Although it is pretty spotty, it is able to provide minimal internet connection for the household.

I am so thankful that even though showers are not an option right now, we have a pool!

I am so thankful that many hands make light work. The children had the opportunity to really build on the “love of working” today as we pulled weeds, raked and hoed the garden. (Some are still working on the “love” part.)

I am so thankful to be able to pinpoint seeds of a bad habits before they have a chance to grow.

My daughter reminded me of a sign that once hung on my grandmother’s door. It said,

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Does your Family- Love your Government?

14 Jul

When your daughter thinks she wants her ears pierced, your 7-18 year old wants to go out running alone, or your vulnerable youth is pressing you for his or her personal autonomy, what happens in your home? What is your response? What is their reaction to your response?

Kudos to you if your children are even asking you, as opposed to just telling you their intentions or showing you their decision, after-the-fact. If you’ve had the benefit to discuss, consult, advise and examine these interests of your children, are they/you encouraged with the exchange, as it takes place? Or, are you frustrated by having blown your cool, at the first mention of the “absurd” desire?Furthermore, are you indignant believing you never had the opportunity to come alongside your child, because these things are beyond your control?

I have experienced these emotions, among many varied exchanges, while dealing with our children’s expressed desires.  I confess to having reacted poorly, as in, “how could you even contemplate such a stupid notion! Absolutely NOT, under no circumstances- my answer is NO! In fact- our discussion is ENDED!” My fears expressed accordingly- that my progeny would even think long enough to have the poor sense to ask, I and they leave each other knowing this was no conversation. Thus, I have reinforced the setting up of a cycle or culture not at all conducive to better and more constructive opportunities on another subject/day.

How do we get to the place where we are renewing daily our opportunity to speak into each others lives? How do we and they want to be spoken and listened to? I have without exaggeration dozens of opportunities, from just the last few days, as examples to share.  I’ll describe just a few.  But first, I have dozens of examples because I spend a delightful amount of time with my kiddos! We are devoted to spending time together.  This environment has been erected over a lifetime of loving to be together. Household culture #1- devoting ourselves to each other, with time, over time, all the time. This is now a universal cornerstone for our family because we are part of something bigger than ourselves. It takes a lot of time together to build re-pore. If we are never together, we have an impossibly hard time gaining this essential family commodity of re-pore.

An adult daughter of mine, asked just this morning- “dad, what would you think of my getting my ears pierced?”  This was not the first time we had talked this over… why, as an adult is she even asking me? My reply was- “of course, if this is what you want”.  I had many years previously asked her to consider waiting awhile to see if she still had the desire, after the passage of time. I didn’t think it would be six plus years between asking. I had simply stated previously that “these days a girl with out pierced ears sure stands out”. My daughter will always stand out because she show’s a lot of respect to her dad, family, and others. Secondly, she governs herself well in self discipline and accountability. This would be household culture#2– governing of ones-self according to Godly principles, by knowing we are all for one and one for all! Understanding that we are responsible for how we conduct ourselves according to that good instruction and example.

If the first order of government is self government by the individual, it behooves us to, by the earliest of ages, to train with example by instruction, counsel, and consequence. Meaning, when the children are very small, after …counsel comes their decision and the consequence. Let them fall …and rise. For while young, they don’t fall as hard and far. They get up, gain insight, greater trust, and responsibility. Another of my teenage children was allowed the opportunity to remain at home, with the older siblings, when we were away for a short trip. During a hike he, against counsel of the older siblings, decided to separate himself from the group.  This caused consternation, along with potential danger, for the older crew left in charge. For too long, they were left looking for him. When we arrived home we did not let this slide but had extensive conversation over the group’s predicament. Consequences for the attitude leading to this decision and for his poor choice and lack of understanding, in leaving the group, were discussed by me and a few of the others involved. To his credit, he did not want to remain ignorant to the effect of separating from the group.  Life lessons like these are good opportunities for growth and incentive to change course, in the future.  There’s always a risk with giving autonomy but the greater risk may be having no breadth of occasion for children to experience, grow, and make decisions, good and bad. I have noticed more good judgment through many experiences over time.

We have another principle that is bedrock to our family.  As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord (Jesus Christ). Leading to household culture #3- Dad is in Charge, and mom is his number one backer (and btw- mom has a lot of responsibility and the authority to wield it). The Caveat which brings this full circle is dad answers to God, which seems to bring some humility to the whole family paradigm, in living alongside each other in peace and harmony. First and foremost Dad loves Mom- the kids see it all the time. Secondly, Mom respects Dad A LOT (more than is deserved), btw- this makes it really quite easy for me to love her, because I have great joy and confidence. Mom even respects dad when it’s hard, and says that this is made easier for her, knowing all she does is for her Lord (Jesus Christ) anyway. So the glue that holds it all together is~ …our youngest daughter just came in with an iced coffee and handed it to mommy saying “here- this is from God, I mean Yetta…” giggling. ~What we do is serve one another. The family is the perfect place for practice. Principles guide us- not our feelings. But our feelings have grown for each other over the years. We are devoted to one other out of  love for Christ. We have benefited beyond explanation.  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

No Boredom Allowed!

13 Jul

Yesterday was one of those days that everything went right!

The kids science class was going so well, I think they went half an hour over what was intended. When they were done, they all headed off to work on reading, taking notes, and making creative pages.

Hoping to give the kids some inspiration, I showed them examples of each other’s work. Well… it worked better than I anticipated! They were all busily working for the next two hours! After seeing the older kids notes, the younger crews pages started taking on a whole new look.  No longer a quick drawing with a short sentence or two, Humphrey the whale has a pull tab to jump out of his pocket with an informative list of facts!

My two youngest decided they no longer wanted to be held back by waiting for me to listen to them read.  They each picked up books on their own and started sounding out the words. I don’t think they are retaining much, but more importantly, for now, they want to be in the game and are excited to read.

Then to top it all off, my son came in to show me what he had been working on.  Similar to one a cousin had made years ago, he was creating leather journals.

Two of our goals in raising children are to instill a love of reading and love for learning. Sometimes it might not feel like we’re making progress, but yesterday the fruit was evident!




Don’t let boredom set in this summer.  Give them a little inspiration and who knows what might happen!